What is The Bar Method? And why do I love it?

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I did the classic New Years Resolution to get in shape, get fit, and maybe lose a few pounds without going too drastic. If I couldn't lose weight for the wedding, then I would've liked to at least tone and tighten my body. And I did start working out with my Ballet Beautiful DVDs. Because I haven't used them in a while, I was surprised with how much I was able to endure the never-ending bridge workouts (about 40 reps). I should've taken it slow because that resulted in a foot injury for the next couple of weeks. The inner part of my left foot, under my ankle, was swollen and I could barely walk without pain and limping. My mom pulled out her Trigger Point workbook, and found that the trigger point of my pain was located at the back my calf. So she massaged my calf really really hard. The next day, the pain went down from 8 to 3. I started to massage my calf on my own. Time healed it, but I know it's a tender part of my body now.

Prior to that incident, I started working out since August using some of my ballet/barre DVDs. I resubscribed to The Bar Method streaming workouts, which are only $15/month (the same price as an Allure Beauty Box subscription). I have a few of their DVDs, and I even got to take live class when I was in LA. (Note: when your workout videos start to get stale, try and take a live class. It was no joke for me, and there were much more reps. The instructor was also correcting me, to make the moves more challenging and effective. And when you see 20 other women busting their asses, you don't want to stop as well. When I work out at home, it's so easy to pause and lay down on the floor when I feel like it. And it's something I do a lot, and am trying to break the habit)



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The Bar Method in Marina del Rey, CA

The Bar Method (TBM) is a "barre" workout that fuses ballet/pilates/yoga, and is derived from The Lotte Berk Method. Its founder, ballet dancer Lotte Berk, fled Nazi Germany to England. She used her dance background to create a workout system that emphasizes toning, strengthening and flexibility. TBM's founder, Burr Leonard, trained under Lotte Berk and developed her own system. She collaborated with doctors and physical therapists to modify and ensure that they were safe yet effective for students.

This is not a classical ballet class, and you don't know how to dance to benefit from this. I know when people think of barre classes, they think of having to go en pointe and do turns. While there are some exercises that incorporate ballet (ex: 1st and 2nd position turnouts, pliés and relevés), there are vast differences. In ballet, the movement is larger range of motion. For barre, it's all about pulsing your arms/abs/legs in 1-inch movements that get you shaking so hard. Ballet is both a fitness and an art form, and barre is solely about fitness. Ballet is completely all body work, whereas barre incorporates light weights, little balls, and sometimes rubber tubes. Don't let the 2 or 3 pound weights fool you: with impeccable form and 20+ reps, you will feel like your arms are going to fall off. With the burning and shaking, your body builds muscle, which increases your metabolism and burns more calories in the long run.

How a typical TBM video or class is structured (moves vary depending on instructor):
Warm up (high knees in place)
Plank
Arms: Elbow lifts, shoulder walks, bicep curls, tricep pulses parallel to your back, pushups, reverse pushups
Stretching
Thigh:  calf raises,  pliés, pliés with ball in between thighs, knee dancing
Seat/butt: pretzels, foldovers, arabesque
Pushups
Stretching into splits
Abs: Pilates-based ab work
Back dancing (this is just another word for bridges)
Stretching/cool down

Celebrities who do TBM: Zooey Deschanel, Kelly Osborne, Drew Barrymore

I started working out with TBM from August–October and I stopped. I felt like my thighs were getting a little more pronounced. I am pear-shaped, so I will never be the coveted size 2 (I was at my sickest moments with lupus when my size 4 pants were starting to fall off). But I also needed to do cardio and focus on my diet to see the results in my thighs. I was also getting bored, which is why variety is important. From now until the wedding (and after, it's a lifestyle change), I will do TBM 3–5 times a week as Burr recommends, 40-60 minutes of cardio at least 3 times a week, and power yoga once a week.

I did see results in other areas though: My arms, back and abs were looking lean and sculpted, and I lost my love handles, even though I wasn't losing weight. I've lost 6 pounds since October, but I am feeling softer since being more sedentary and just starting TBM and the treadmill last week. 

It's not about just the looks though, I swear. I love how it makes me feel afterwards: invigorated and confident. I am more flexible from TBM, and it was the only workout that helped me go further into pushups and splits. I have a long way to go, but I see little-by-little progess. So yes, you can get really strong from this even if you are doing only body work and light weights. I also have MUCH better posture. And I would rather have sore muscles than aching joints from being inactive.

Because TBM is low impact, it is safe for everyone of all fitness levels, those with chronic illnesses (In their FAQ, they even explain how it's great for lupus patients) and pregnant women.

There are many TBM studios across the US and 2 in Canada (just in Vancouver though). If you aren't near one (the closest locations to me are in the Bay Area) or don't want to shell out the money, you can purchase the DVDs on Amazon or at their store, or subscribe to Bar Online, their streaming workouts for $15/month. They have videos for beginners, mixed levels and accelerated exercisers. Most of the videos are 60 minutes, but they have a lot of 20 minute videos if you don't have time or want to target a specific body part.

Have you tried The Bar Method or any other barre classes?
What is your favorite way to work out?

6 comments :

  1. Great post - I've always wanted to try the BAR Method. Maybe I'll take up a few classes to get fit for summer lol

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  2. I have actually never heard of the bar method before, so thank you for introducing me to it, hun! <3 It does sound pretty amazing, and I like that it's low impact, too. I really don't enjoy intense exercise, plus I'm not really that fit and I struggle with a lot of more advanced stuff! This one however, sounds easy and lovely, and it seems like it makes you feel pretty good afterwards, also! :) Thanks for sharing, lovely. <3 xoxo

    Kay
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  3. Ooh sounds like a great way to exercise will have to see if there is any classes near me

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  4. I need to get some workout done!! I will look into more details! Great article, thank you to shareeeee!

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